Erica BajerSt. Catharines Standard
Date Published: Friday, June 22, 2012
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Pathstone Mental Health is building a new $8-million treatment facility in St. Catharines that will help it reach more children.
"Our goal is to provide more service," said chief executive officer Ellis Katsof. "We will be able to see more kids."
Pathstone is Niagara's only mental health institution for children and youths. Its planned 50,000-square-foot facility will sit on the corner of Fourth Ave. and Third St., near the new Niagara Health System hospital site.
It will replace the agency's current site on Schmon Parkway, which is a shared space of approximately 30,000 square feet.
"We're just really tight for space where we are," Katsof said. "We've been really creative in how we provide services where we are."
The new building will be in addition to the six program offices opened in the past year in Fort Erie, Port Colborne, Welland, Niagara Falls, Thorold and Grimsby.
"This new treatment facility will provide a range of specialized services that we can't provide in the local program offices," he said.
There will be more space for counselling rooms, additional space for group treatment and specially designed areas for art and play therapy.
As well, Katsof said, there will be space dedicated to the Pathstone Children's Mental Health Research Institute, a partnership with Brock University aimed at investigating and developing treatment methods.
"We're also looking at setting up an adult wellness centre," he said.
The centre would be aimed at adults suffering from depression and would offer alternatives to medication, Katsof said, noting 50% of the youths Pathstone serves have a parent with a mental illness, including many with depression.
Serving parents will also help children, he said.
The number of children, youth and families Pathstone serves continues to grow, Katsof said.
Last year, the agency worked with more than 6,900 people, including 4,100 children and youth and 2,800 parents and caregivers.
In May, the not-for-profit agency saw an all-time high in the number of referrals it received with 160, nearly double the 82 in May 2011.
"Our numbers are growing," he said, noting that growth makes it difficult to predict if the new building will cut down on wait times.
Katsof said the agency will soon put out a request for proposals to hire an architect for the facility, which will be four or five storeys high.
"We're building it larger than what we need," he said, noting it's hoped that some community agencies will share the space.
"We want to create a community building."
He said the Pathstone Foundation will soon launch a capital fundraising campaign for $5 million. The remaining money will be paid through a mortgage, he said.
Katsof is confident the community will step up and support the campaign, "so we can provide better care to the kids who deserve it."
Pathstone staff will be involved in the design of the new facility, the groundbreaking for which is targeted for summer or fall 2013.
Katsof said Pathstone searched for properties for a year before settling on the new site, being sold by developer Len Pennachetti.
"It's such a perfect fit with the concept," Pennachetti said.
"The vision was for a medical campus to compliment the hospital next door. This is the first piece of the puzzle."
He said there are plans to put a medical office next door to the parcel of land Pathstone will be built on.
By the numbers
$8 million: approximate price tag of new Pathstone Mental Health facility.
50,000 square feet: size of planned building.
Four or five: number of storeys the building will have.
$5 million: amount Pathstone Foundation hopes to raise in capital fundraising campaign.
6,900: number of children, youth and parents assisted last year.
34.4%: percentage of youth from St. Catharines who access services.
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